Non-traditional agriculture production has played an increasingly important role in exports in recent years. While citrus, sugar and bananas are major contributors towards GDP, there are fairly new crops that are expanding Belize’s food basket. Papayas, grains and legumes, and vegetables are a few examples.
Excessive rains in late 2013 negatively affected the papaya industry. Papaya production plummeted by 39.5% to 34.2mn pounds, as the industry was affected by viral infections and floods. The problem was compounded by the difficulty of locating disease-free lands to lease for new plantings.
Similarly, papaya exports declined by 39.5% to 34.2mn pounds, as yields were adversely affected by disease, flooding and a shortage of suitable land for production. The steep volume decline outweighed a 6.1% improvement in the average price per pound and pushed receipts down by 35.8% to $13.3mn. Notably, Farmers have taken a proactive approach to address this problem by cultivating land that is conducive for plant growth. With that said, an increase in papaya production is expected for the upcoming season.
Belize’s main export market for papayas is the United States. Expansion in production has helped Belize to become the second largest supplier of papayas to the US, after Mexico.15 Table 1 illustrates production figures and revenues generated between 2010 and 2014.
|Year||Volume (mn lbs)||Volume $BZ|
Source: Statistical Institute of Belize
Grains and Legumes
Bean production continued the downward trend initiated in 2013, falling by further 22.1% due to reductions in acreage and average yield of 14.6% and 8.7%, respectively.
Corn, while acreage expanded by 5.7%, average yields fell by 19.6% due to unfavourable weather, and total production consequently declined by 0.8% to 157.4mn pounds.
With acreage under mechanized operations in western Belize falling sharply, output of rice and sorghum also fell by 22.8% to 34.9mn. The cutback in rice production was due to a perceived oversupply on the local market, which is expected to continue into 2015.
Source: Central Bank Annual Report 2014